Stephen Windham established himself as one of the best catchers in the state early in his high school career. Now, the Summerville senior is proving to be an effective starting pitcher as his prep career winds down.

Coach Burt Bazzle calls him the heart and soul of the Green Wave team.

“He’s probably one of the best defensive catchers I’ve had at Summerville,” the longtime Summerville baseball coach said. “He handles pitchers really well and nobody tries to steal on him anymore. If they do, they know what’s going to happen.”

Windham also gets good reviews as a pitcher. He was the team’s closer last summer but has earned a spot in the starting rotation. He’s 2-0 with four saves and an 0.68 ERA heading into today’s Region 8-AAAA showdown against Ashley Ridge. He’s allowed only 12 hits in 202/3 innings and has struck out 29 batters.

“He didn’t start for us last spring, but I knew he threw over the summer,” Bazzle said of Windham, who plays for the Diamond Devils travel team. “One thing led to another, and he earned a start. He did well and he’s going to get more starts. Of course, we lose something when he’s not catching, but our other catcher, Miles Goodwin, does well.”

Windham’s fastball is above average and he has good control of his curveball.

But his first love seems to be catcher.

He played Little League and was a catcher because “I was a little chubby and didn’t run that well,” he said.

He got good instruction from numerous coaches, including his father Scott. He was All-Lowcountry and all-state last spring, and his numbers for his senior season are just as impressive.

“Catching turned out to be my ticket to college,” Windham said.

He will play for The Citadel, and there’s a good chance tonight’s pitching matchup against Ashley Ridge could feature two future Bulldogs: Windham vs. Austin Livingston.

Windham’s cousin, Bryan Altman, played for The Citadel, and was drafted by the San Diego Padres in 2010.

“Going to The Citadel is going to be great,” said Windham, who plans to major in engineering. “Their brotherhood — it’s a tight-knit group, and The Citadel is the No. 1 public school in the South. The baseball program is good. It’s also close to home, which means my family gets to see me play.”

That includes his father, who is the pitching coach for the Green Wave.

“He has been mentally tough for us and we are able to put him in just about any situation,” coach Windham said.